A Classroom instead of a groom
13 years old Usha's parents and older brother had started searching for a suitor for her. For them, the older a girl gets, the harder it becomes to find a match. Dowries and wedding expenses rise with girl’s age as older and educated grooms demand higher dowry. Therefore, Usha just stayed at home waiting to get married.
When data showed 20 school going children out-of-school in Harnampur last year, Save the Children started Alternative Education (AEP) Class. AEP is six months long class that brings children who are not in school together to learn in an accelerated format all the basic things to enroll in their age appropriate grade. Usha’s parents sent her to AEP but enrolling her in school later was still a challenge.
"I visited the parents of these children regularly and counselled them on importance of education. To Usha's parents, I showed them the difference of independent and dependent women in our own community. Usha was willing to study and avoid marriage which made my work easier." says social mobilizer Aahamad Gulam.
Though Usha went to school up to second grade as a child, she remembered nothing from her initial school days. So, she went to the class for 6 months continuously and learned letters, words, sentences, paragraph and calculation in the class. On the basis of test results at end, she was enrolled in grade five. "I enjoy school. I don’t have to sit at home listening to my family plan my wedding. I want to study up to grade 12 at least and become teacher." says Usha, "I want to earn my own money. I want to teach girls like me and make them able."
Among the group of 20, 17 students from AEP class that year joined school and the her VDC was declared 100% enrolled.